HAYDN Piano Sonata in C, Hob XVI:50. LISZT Mephisto Waltz No. 1. SZYMANOWSKI Masques, Op. 34: Shéhérazade. CHOPIN Polonaises: in E♭, Op. 26 No. 2; in A♭, Op. 53 “Heroic.”  Scherzo No. 1. Nocturne in c, Op. 48 No. 1  —  Mikolaj Warszynski (pn)  —  ANIMA 141200001 (65:53)

 

As indicated in the program notes, this recording contains some of pianist Mikolaj Warszynski’s “most-loved pieces.” There is no more traditional motivation for programming a recital; what is required is a pianist whose musical personality is compelling enough to capture the listener’s attention through a variety of disparate styles. I often seek out recordings to fill a gap in my listening repertoire or to explore a favorite composer further. None of the pieces on this disc were absent from my collection, and such will be the case for many of Fanfare’s readers. What this recital provides instead is a compelling introduction to a very interesting, capable, and confident pianist.

The danger of including standard repertoire on a debut recording is that the pianist must be judged against a century’s worth of recordings of the same repertoire, much of which has set the canonical standard for interpretation. Warszynski tries neither to mimic nor to outdo his predecessors, though; instead, his recording of these pieces is entirely on his own terms. A less confident pianist might attempt to play the Mephisto Waltz with unprecedented speed. Warszynski’s rendition is actually slower than most recordings I have heard—a solid 90 seconds longer than Rubinstein’s and almost three minutes longer than Kapell’s. It is also stealthier, more menacing, and more orchestral. The main theme has room to swagger. It also has moments of elegance and grotesquerie that a more relentless tempo does not permit. The result is that the central lyrical section proceeds from, rather than simply contrasting with, the opening material. Warszynski’s Mephistopheles has a richer, more complicated personality than most. If I occasionally wish for more moments of sheer pianistic display, I am more than compensated by the breadth of nuance this performance offers.

My reaction to Warszynski’s Chopin is similar. He brings a notable level of aristocratic grandeur to the two polonaises on this recording. Malcuzynski makes the bass octaves accompanying the famous A♭ Polonaise’s main theme crash and thunder. It is tremendously exciting. Warszynski lightens these octaves and gives them a slight lilt. One can imagine them underscoring an actual dance. Only in the few bars before the theme’s initial entrance do I find Warszynski’s more deliberate approach overly measured. And in the central section, notorious for its difficult, repetitive left-hand octave pattern, Warszynski is as fleet as any pianist I have heard. It’s highly dramatic, mature playing, as is his interpretation of the Polonaise in E♭Minor, which conveys a welcome sense of courtliness throughout. The Scherzo in B Minor shows Warzynski’s grasp of musical architecture. It is easy for the piece to sound static and overly repetitive. Warzynski shapes his nuances over extended phrase groups. He makes the repeated passages sound like a crucial part of an overall narrative. The melodious central section is tender and spontaneous sounding. I might prefer a bit more pedal in the outer sections, but the slight dryness of tone brings an exciting brusqueness to these passages. The Nocturne in C Minor is the most successful of Warszynski’s Chopin performances. His melody tones are consistently warm and rich, and he demonstrates a grand, cinematic conception of the piece. I would consider recommending this recording for this performance alone even if I were less taken with the remainder of the disc.

Szymanowski’s “Shéhérazade” similarly speaks to Warszynski’s strengths. He brings extraordinary clarity to the piece’s knotty intertwining melodic lines, giving each a distinct timbre. It is a strikingly orchestral performance, from the timpani effect of the rapidly repeated bass notes to the delicate fluty trills in the treble. Warszynski’s rubato is uninhibited and makes for a vividly colorful performance.

I found Warszynski’s Haydn less completely convincing than the other works on this program, though quite enjoyable. His phrasing is crisp, and the counterpoint is always clear. But Warszynski’s tempos strike me as just a touch too fast in all three movements. The faster tempo is intriguing in the slow movement, making the ornamental passages sound spontaneous and improvisatory. But I prefer a more expansive approach. Nonetheless, there are some very exciting moments in this performance, and the fast movements are delightfully propulsive. The sound quality on the recording is brilliant and live, albeit just slightly drier than I find ideal.

I will be eager to hear more from Warszynski.

Myron Silberstein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAYDN Piano Sonata in C, Hob XVI:50. LISZT Mephisto Waltz No. 1. SZYMANOWSKI Masques, Op. 34: Shéhérazade. CHOPIN Polonaises: in E♭, Op. 26 No. 2; in A♭, Op. 53 “Heroic.”  Scherzo No. 1. Nocturne in c, Op. 48 No. 1  —  Mikolaj Warszynski (pn)  —  ANIMA 141200001 (65:53)

 

I gravitate to CDs organized as complete recitals. When the program is ingeniously devised, new connections emerge, as when pianist Shai Wosner juxtaposed short pieces by Brahms and Schoenberg or Jeremy Denk confronted late Beethoven with the Ligeti Études—Denk described the latter as “bite-sized bits of infinity.” Sometimes these meetings are impulsive elopements, sometimes harmonious weddings. But the performer has to convince us that the connections bring musical rewards. In this new release, the accomplished Polish pianist Mikolaj Warszynski presents some imaginative match-ups and performs each piece to prove that they are musically valid.

An obvious connection links Chopin and Szymanowski, two Polish geniuses. But going beyond the obvious, Warszynski wants us to elevate the two composers equally. His performance of Szymanowski’s Shéhérazade offers convincing evidence of its inspiration. The year 1915 was a breakthrough for Szymanowski, who composed three mythic trilogies that create a unique, personal sound world. Shéhérazade is the voluptuous opening piece from the trilogy Masques, Op. 34. It compares with better-known portrayals of the alluring Arabian Nights princess by Rimsky-Korsakov and Ravel—if anything, Szymanowski surpasses them for originality. He exploits a panoply of trills tremolos, and ostinato motifs in ways no one dreamed of before him (the closest approximation is Scriabin). There’s not a whiff of clichéd Orientalism, and the more I listened to Warszynski’s strong, totally convincing reading, the more I realized how overlooked Szymanowski still is.

Juxtaposing one of Haydn’s most popular late piano sonatas with Liszt’s brass-plated Mephisto Waltz doesn’t immediately create a connection, but when you turn to Warszynski’s program note, he argues that Liszt falls into the same rationalist lineage as Classical composers like Haydn, whereas Chopin represents a true breakthrough in the spirit of passionate revolutionary. It’s an intriguing argument, which Warszynski explains in depth. I’m not so sure, but his performance of the Haydn C Major Sonata is unexpected—and satisfying—in its virile directness, while he turns the tables on the Mephisto Waltz by finding so much musicality in it.

The piece works better in a no-bluster zone, and Warszynski’s technical command is impressive.

The four Chopin works that end the program form a quasi-sonata in Warszynski’s mind, with the two Polonaises functioning as outer movements, the Nocturne as a slow movement, and the Scherzo as—the Scherzo.  The pianist’s approach in the fast music captures his notion of Chopin as a passionate revolutionary; we are part of a liberating band of patriots, not lounging in a Parisian salon. Each piece is phrased with a sure instinct, and the readings are much aided by the presence of a magnificent Bösendorfer grand. Warszynski makes special mention of its depth of tone, which he loves. It is well conveyed by close, realistic recorded sound. 

Here’s a pianist, then, who deserves wider recognition for his technique, musicality, and totally intriguing programming. 

Huntley Dent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAYDN Sonata No. 60 in C, Hob. XVI:50. SZYMANOWSKI  From Masques: Shéhérazade, op. 34/1. LISZT Méphisto Waltz No. 1, S. 514. CHOPIN Polonaise in e♭, op. 26/2. Scherzo in b, op. 20. Nocturne in c, op. 48/1. Polonaise in A♭, op. 53, “Héroique”  Ÿ  Mikolaj Warszynski (pn)  Ÿ  ANIMA ANM/141200001 (65:53)

 

This disc marks the debut of the Polish-Canadian pianist Mikolaj Warszynski, and, perhaps not surprisingly, it is also my first encounter with this young artist.

No doubt in an effort to illustrate the pianist’s range, the featured repertoire is stylistically diverse and technically challenging. There is nonetheless no unifying theme beyond the fact that, as we are told in the accompanying notes, this apparently is a “collection of some of [Warszynski’s] most-loved pieces from the classical repertoire.” While piano recitals comprised of “greatest hits” rarely work, Warszynski manages to pull it off. In large part, this is because he plays everything very well and it is plain that he loves and understands this music.   

In the outer movements of the oft-played Haydn sonata, Warszynski impresses with his pinpoint articulation, classical poise, and dry wit. But the real gem of the performance is pensive, gorgeously-shaded Adagio, where the pianist’s finely regulated Bösendorfer truly sings. Put simply, this is Haydn done just right.

Warszynski maintains tight reigns over Shéhérazade’s icy and unwieldy narrative structure, and the results are revelatory. At times, however, particularly in the extended climactic section, I missed the overtly virtuoso sizzle other pianists bring to this mysterious score—Sviatoslav Richter’s 1970 live performance on BBC remains a reference point in my book. The same observations are also applicable to Liszt’s Méphisto Waltz. Warszynski delivers a very fine performance, particularly in the amoroso section, but there is just a dash of tight-rope daredevilry that appears to me to be occasionally missing. Compare the staccatissimo octave leaps in Vladimir Ashkenazy’s classic late 1950s recording to Warszynski’s slightly cautious account and you will know what I mean. 

I had no reservations about the Chopin selections. Perhaps owing to his Polish heritage, Warszynski plays this music with regal authority and heartfelt lyricism,

and I suspect that all but the pickiest of listeners would find anything disagreeable here.

The quality of the engineering is very fine. Two minor caveats. First, the microphones seem to have been placed very closely to the piano, and I suspect that Warszynski’s coloristic palette suffers a result. Second, the aforementioned instrument is not a full-size concert grand, and as such it lacks the resonance

and organ-like bass that make Bösendorfers instantly recognizable.

Given that the recital consists almost exclusively of staples of the pianistic repertoire, Warszynski faces formidable competition across the board—including from the likes of Richter in the Haydn, Szymanowski, and Liszt pieces, or Ashkenazy and Maurizio Pollini in the Chopin selections. Still, if one of the markers of a true artist

is the ability to retain the listener’s attention in works everyone has heard dozens of times, then Warszynski is without doubt a true artist.

In sum, a distinctive and enjoyable debut recording. I look forward to following Warszynski’s artistic trajectory in the coming years.

Radu A. Lelutiu

 

 

 

 

 

“Warszynski, born, like Chopin, in Poland but raised in Canada, is a fluid player who beautifully captured the lilting concerto, which starts with a shimmering, sweeping first movement.

Parts of the delicate melody were so rippling, the pianist’s hands appeared to glide over the keys. Occasionally more powerful strokes were demanded, like musical exclamation points. And Warszynski had the deliberate touch needed to stir larger emotional waves.

He played the concerto’s reflective second movement with a gentle touch, making it sound like a beautiful chimera.

…the sentimental concerto ended elegantly. And the appreciative audience rewarded Warszynski and orchestra for the breathtaking performance with a

standing ovation.”

Lana Michelin, Red Deer Advocate, January 18, 2015 on Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2

 

 

 

 

 

"Mikołaj Warszyński traktuje twórczość Chopina o wiele bardziej intelektualnie …W jego interpretacji ta muzyka przybiera cechy dramatyzmu a nawet tragizmu.”

 

"Warszynski treats the works of Chopin in a very intellectual manner… in his interpretation the music takes on dramatic characteristics, even hovering on the verge of the tragic…"

Joanna Tumiłowicz, Maestro magazine 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"...doskonale spełnia się idea, że artysta jest wybrańcem bogów, by talentem czarował i odrywał innych od ziemi."

Katarzyna Szrodt, Biuletyn Polonijny, Montreal 2013 na temat koncert Chopinowski w Łaziekach

 

 

 

 

« Un vrai artiste ! »        Aquiles Delle Vigne,  2005

 

 

"Mikolaj's piano playing is stellar."        Michael Horwood, Tonus Vivus 2009

 

 

"Mikolaj Warszynski touched the audience with his technically exquisite and emotionally charged interpretation of the middle movement of the second concerto. Pure magic!"

Piotr Grella-Mozejko, Panorama Polska, December/Grudzien 2009

 

 

"A major talent... Warszynski is such a marvelous mixture of modesty and charisma."

Piotr Grella-Mozejko, CJSR Radio, Edmonton, Alberta, 2009

 

 

“Un récital magnifique”

Francine Moreau, Avenue Vincent d’Indy, CBC Radio Ville-Marie, Montreal, Quebec, 2009

 

 

“Ja myślę ze organizatorom udało się stworzyć unikalną atmosferę przyszłości… pewnego rodzaju mistykę mistrza…  I to przemawia do każdego, to wzrusza, to daje się uwieść. Muzyka jest oczywiście fenomenalna, i życzę bym sobie ze takich wydarzeń w naszym środowisku było więcej. To było fantastyczne!”

Kazimierz Szymocha, PhD. speaks on "From Żelazowa Wola to Paris" on OMNI TV, 2009

 

 

"Piękne nastroje wykreowane w tym utworze przez pianistę, pełne burzliwych emocji i delikatnych wątków lirycznych wysublimowanych ulotnymi pianami, na długo pozostaną w naszej pamięci."

Tatiana Warszynski, Mazurka Musik and Art, 2010

 

 

"Hier handelt es sich um einem hochbegabten jungen Künstler, der als Konzertpianist internationale Karriere machen wird. Mikolaj Warszynski versteht es, Gefühl, Würde und Pathos am Klavier auszudrücken und mit klarer Formgebung zu verbinden... Sehr publikumswirksam erwies sich der <Mephisto-Waltzer> - hier war es eine Mischung von technisch einwandfreier und griffiger Klavierenergie mit gezügeltem Temperament."

Elsa Petrowska, Alberta Echo, 1996

 

 

CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW TO LINK TO THE ARTIST"S PRESS BOOK:

 

 

Piano Solo de Mikolaj Warszynski

Mikolaj Warszynski vient de sortir son disque Piano Solo. Ce pianiste originaire de Gdansk (Pologne) mène une carrière internationale. Il se produit régulièrement en Pologne, notamment à la société Chopin, à Varsovie au Parc Royal Łazienki et au musée Iwaszkiewicz ou encore à la Philharmonie Baltique de Gdansk. Je vous épargne son actualité musicale dans les autres pays, vous aurez tout le loisir de la découvrir sur son site internet. Notons toutefois qu’il a appris des plus grands comme Marek Jablowski, Jean-Paul Sevilla, Aquiles Delle Vigne, Janet Scott-Hoyt, … Son jeu, technique et bien posé, est accompagné d’une réelle énergie. Nuances et sensibilité sont au rendez-vous, sensibilité qui émane d’ailleurs de cet artiste quand on le côtoie.

 

Il est important pour la compréhension de ce disque de noter l’implication de Mikolaj Warszynski dans l’étude et l’analyse musicale de compositeurs. Il a notamment écrit sa thèse sur "l’exotisme et les influences interculturelles dans les Métopes (1915)" du compositeur Karol Szymanowski. C’est donc sans surprise que nous voyons ce compositeur polonais dans le programme.

 

Ce disque souhaite rendre hommage à plusieurs grands de la musique savante : Haydn, Szymanowski, Liszt et Chopin. Mikolaj Warszynski souhaite ainsi révéler les liens qui unissent ces quatre compositeurs à différentes époques. Si Liszt et Szymanowski s’inspirent de la pureté, de la rationalité et de la transparence d’Haydn, ces trois compositeurs font contrastes à la nature révolutionnaire des œuvres de Chopin. Celui-ci intègre en effet une dimension tragique et héroïque dans sa musique, qui fait résonnance aux combats que la Pologne a dû mener pour survivre.

 

Haydn, Szymanowski et Liszt sont davantage dans la sonorité de leurs pièces, approchant (pour reprendre une citation de Christopher Palmer) "une traduction impressionniste musicale de la chaleur ou de la lumière chatoyante". Cette sonorité, si parfaitement traduite par le timbre du piano (le disque a été enregistré sur un Bösenderfer) se retrouve dans l’œuvre "Shéhérazade" de Szymanowski. Cette pièce met ainsi en évidence l’exotisme oriental si cher au compositeur.

 

Vous retrouverez ce disque en vente sur la boutique du label Anima Records.

Piano Solo de Mikolaj Warszynski (Label Anima Records) 2015

Laurent Bellin

© 2014  Mikolaj Warszynski. All Rights reserved.

  • w-facebook
  • Twitter Clean
  • w-youtube